Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Government Shutdown/Debt Ceiling Issue

There is a lot of talk about a solution emerging from the Senate. There may be a compromise among senators from both parties, but the fact remains that the problem is in the House. The problem is that there are idiot tea party Republicans who I really do not think understand basic finance. The idea that the U.S. government can just be allowed to default on any of its obligations is completely ridiculous, but we have members of the tea party caucus who think it would not be so bad.

John Boehner has a choice: (1) allow a "clean" spending bill and debt ceiling increase to go forward and probably lose his job as Speaker from a revolt by tea party folks, or (2) continue the shutdown, do not pass a debt ceiling increase, and watch the U.S. and global economy fall into a major depression. The second option allows him to keep his job temporarily, but he will probably lose his Speakership because Dems take over the House.

It is scary to think about how bad it will really be if the tea party radicals win out.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lovie Smith to Coach the Tampa Bay Bucs

OK, I don't have any inside information, but this would be a great hire. Schiano won't be the coach next year. It is very clear that the locker room hates him. Frankly, if I were the Bucs management, I would cut my losses right now and do what I can to bring in Lovie Smith.

Say what you want about Lovie, but he is a player's coach who knows D and who is well respected around the NFL. He could quickly fix the locker room problems that exist and could get far more out of the somewhat talented, but completely underperforming, Bucs players. I hope it happens because I think Lovie is a very good coach.

Monday, October 14, 2013

NFL Notes

The Packers were able to squeak by the Ravens. I am sure John Harbaugh is questioning his decisions. He went for a 4th and 1 at the goal line and got stuffed early in the game. That field goal would have helped. I had no problem with going for it there. You want to try to show some confidence in your team and it is early - it just didn't work. However, the decision to be aggressive right before halftime was disasterous. The Ravens were fortunate to only be down 3-0 just before halftime after Mason Crosby missed a late field goal. There were 12 seconds and instead of just running the ball or downing it at the Ravens' 35 yard line and going into halfime they tried to throw the ball. Sack, fumble, field goal Packers at the half. Now you are down 6-0. The problem I had was that they hadn't done anything in the first half, points were at a premium, and what did they think they were going to do with just 12 seconds. Even if Flacco completes a pass the best they are going to be able to do is go for a Hail Mary. Bad coaching mistake that ended up being the difference in the game.

The Houston "fans" who cheered Schaub's injury are fools.

The Vikings should go to Josh Freeman right now.

The Bucs need to fire Schiano right now.

The Saints displayed very poor clock management and blew the game against the Patriots. They had that game won, but gave the Patriots the ball 3 times in the final 3 minutes. They deserved to lose for their poor clock management.

The Deadskins stink. But RG3 looked much more dynamic in the running game. He missed some open throws and had some balls flutter out of his hand; he also fumbled a couple of times and threw an interception, but he does look better. The Deadskins and him personally would have been better off waiting a few weeks until after the bye. He would have been rusty, but at least his legs would have worked.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bears Win

The Bears made it interesting, but in the end they beat the Giants 27-21. As I was watching it, it seemed like the Bears were going to win pretty much the entire time. However, in the fourth quarter the game was close and the Bears could very well have lost the game. I got nervous that Eli was going to pull one out, but Tim Jennings effectively ended it with his second interception of the night.

Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. The offensive line and Jay Cutler both played well. I liked that Cutler didn't make any boneheaded plays and threw it away a number of times. He also made some plays with his legs to keep drives going. Nice job.

2. The running game was OK, but will need to get better. I thought some of it was play calling. They didn't really run consistently - particularly in the first half. They also seemed to call a lot of plays between the tackles and it just wasn't really there tonight.

3. The Bears defensive line was short-handed. Henry Melton and Nate Collins - two major players at DT are lost for the year and Stephen Paea did not play because of a toe injury. As a result the Bears gave up a fair amount of rushing yards. It is probably my biggest concern going forward.

The Bears get a bit of a mini-bye and can recover from some of the nagging injuries before going to DC. Hopefully the DT situation will improve, because the Deadskins will bring a much more potent rushing attack. Should be fun.

Republican Foolishness

The government shutdown is a mess of a problem that is completely manufactured by Republicans who just cannot accept the Affordable Care Act. It is the law and they want to find a procedural way to stop the law. It passed legislatively, it was upheld by the Supreme Court, we have had a presidential election in which people could vote out President Obama if they didn't like his signature policy. The Republicans lost a significant number of seats in the Senate and the House in the last election while campaigning against the Affordable Care Act - and yet, they still cannot give it up. Idiots.

I am 100 percent with President Obama's position that no negotiation should take place until the government is back in business and there are no threats to the debt ceiling. No President - Democrat or Republican - should negotiate with a Congress that won't take care of the bare minimum requirements of governing. The thing that scares me is that there are so many Republicans who simply do not understand what the debt ceiling is or the consequences of defaulting on any of our government's financial obligations.

It would be a complete disaster to allow the government to default. Interest rates would likely spike and the future value of U.S. Treasury notes would greatly diminish. It would be harder to service our national debt and we would all likely have to pay far more for our cars, houses, school loans, etc. Hopefully the adults in Congress will stick the idiots who don't understand the consequences of default (i.e., tea party Republicans) in a corner with their dunce caps on.

Chicago Bears - New York Giants

The Giants are 0-5 and should end up 0-6 after they play the Bears tonight. The Bears are 3-2 and have played fairly well over the first 5 games. Losing the last two to Detroit and the Saints is OK if they beat the Giants and the Deadskins next week.

As for tonight, the key will be who controls the line of scrimmage. The Giants have been struggling but the Bears have 2 rookie o-linemen and a rash of injuries on the defensive front. In the end, I expect the Bears to win by at least 14 points in a game that largely controlled by the Bears.

Jay Cutler does not usually play well under the lights, so I am interested in seeing what he does. I suspect there will be a heavy dose of Forte and Michael Bush tonight, and the passing game will feature some quick hitting timing plays to the wide receivers. I'd love to see Hester break one - it has been a while. Can't wait for tonight.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Federal Government Shutdown

Living in Maryland, the shutdown is having a pretty dramatic immediate effect. Many of my neighbors are federal employees or government contractors and there are certainly many who are staying home. It is unfortunate because the work that they do is essential. I have neighbor friends who work for NTSB, NIH, and NSA who are all home not doing the work of the American people.

Here is my bottom line take on the shutdown - Republicans are idiots. They could not defeat the Affordable Care Act legislatively, so they have decided to shut down the government rather than fund the law that was passed and upheld by the Supreme Court. Frankly, they have no leverage to stand on. "Negotiating" with hooligans who would rather bring down the government than work to change the law makes little sense. Democrats and the President have no reason to "negotiate" because Republicans aren't offering anything other than the normal functioning of the government.

When people die from tainted food because food inspections aren't being conducted, or veterans stop receiving their benefits, or income tax refund checks don't get mailed, the outcry will get louder and the Republicans will ultimately give in. The American people may not fully understand why the shutdown is happening, but in the end they will know it was the Republicans who caused it.

Chicago Bears 3-1

Jay Cutler had one of his soul-crushing performances that he pulls out from time to time. Three interceptions and another fumble that went for a TD were too much to overcome. The Bears D played pretty well given all of the short fields and offensive mistakes they had to try to clean up.

That said, the Bears are where they need to be four games into the season. Players sometimes have the kind of horrible days that Jay went through - the key is not to have more than one per season. The Saints are visiting Chicago this week and then the Bears play the Giants and Deadskins before the bye. If they win two or three of the upcoming games they will be in good shape following the bye. I do think this week's game against the Saints will be a great test of how good the Bears really are. Playing at home against an undefeated Saints team, following a loss, is a good situation to see what the team is made of.

Monday, September 23, 2013

3-0 Bears

The Bears won their third game in a row and their first win on the road. They played a desperate, but undermanned, Pittsburgh team and won. There were points in the game when the Bears looked unstoppable, and then there were other points where it looked like they might blow it. In the end, it was a very good NFL road victory.

The first quarter was fantastic for the Bears. They took the opening drive down the field and kicked a field goal. The D got a turnover and created a short field which then ended in a Forte TD. The D forced a 3 and out and the Bears third drive ended in a Bush TD run. It was 17-0 and it looked like the rout was on. After a Pittsburgh field goal, the Bears O was stopped for the first time in the game but after the punt, Big Ben threw a pick-6 to Major Wright. Bears 24-3.

At that point, it looked pretty bad for the Steelers. The Bears D held and had forced a punt. But a roughing the kicker penalty on the Bears extended a Steeler drive that resulted in a TD. So, the halftime score was a respectable 24-10. The Bears forced a Steeler fumble after the half and kicked a field goal. Bears 27-10. Then the Steelers clawed their way back and with about 10 minutes to go had closed the game 27-23. Cutler pulled out another great fourth quarter drive that ate up clock and ended in a TD. Bears up 34-23 with under 6 minutes to go and the game was effectively over. Peppers ran in a 42 yard fumble to put the final margin at 40-23.

It was an efficient offensive game, with a couple of timely drives for the Bears, but it was a truly dominating defensive performance. The Bears forced 3 fumbles and the Bears safeties picked off two passes. Add three sacks and constant pressure on Big Ben, along with two more defensive TDs last night, and the Bears D showed itself to be a real force.

On to Detroit for a stiffer road test.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tim Tebow to Jacksonville?

The Jaguars stink right now. They have some nice young pieces and their D is OK, but they stink. They will be lucky to win 3 games this year. The fans don't show up to games and there is a lot of gloom around the team. So, does it make sense to sign Tebow?

There was a "rally" to get Tebow. He got 20 supporters to show up. There is also an online petition in Jacksonville that has nearly 600,000 people saying he should not be signed no matter what.

In the end, it probably is not worth it. If you sign him you have to deal with the circus around him. That is OK if you win a couple of games, but you cannot run a pro-style offense and it may actually hurt the development of your offensive line and receivers. I doubt you would keep Tebow next year when the first pick will likely be a QB that you want to build around. Use this year to work on fundamentals and figure out who the character guys are on the team. Then, next year let the rebuild start with around a new QB.

Fantasy Football

I lost my two games last week and won my two games this week. So I am 1-1 in both leagues. I got Giovani Bernard in the middle rounds of both leagues and he may end up being a steal. He scored twice for Cincy last night and secured my victory for the week in one of my leagues (I benched him in favor of Ahmad Bradshaw in my other league).

I also have Kembrell Thompkins as a late round pick on both my teams. He would have had a great week if he could have held on to the diving catch he tried to make this past weekend. Tom Brady is still looking for options in the passing game. I think Thompkins is the best bet to emerge among the lesser known guys. Julien Edelman looks like he will be the new Wes Welker. Gronk will be Gronk when he comes back, but Thompkins looks like the guy who will be the deep threat.

To win in fantasy football, you have to have guys who come out of nowhere and become studs. Injuries always play a part, but the difference in the end is finding players who are late picks and free agent pickups who become point producers and difference makers.

Monday, September 16, 2013

2-0 Chicago Bears

Awesome game yesterday. I had a bye week from soccer and it was the first time in a long time that I got a chance to go to a sports bar and watch my Bears play. My son is a Ravens fan and we were able to sit and watch the Bears and Ravens play at a local establishment. The Bears were in a back-and-forth battle all day. The game was filled with huge plays and tide-turning mistakes. The Vikings returned the opening kickoff 105 yards for a TD. Devin Hester had two really long (about 80 yard) kickoff returns and one that was about 50 yards (he set a record for most return yardage for a Chicago Bear). Tim Jennings got a huge pick-6, but Cutler gave one up with the Bears driving he fumbled and it got returned for a TD. The Bears had a first and goal on the 1 yard line and then called for a play action pass that got deflected and intercepted in the end zone, but then Cutler closed the final 3 minutes by driving the ball down for the winning TD pass to Bennett. Great game to watch because we won.

I like the Bears offense. There is a great mix of shots down the field with short passes. I haven't looked at the stats, but there were a lot more 3rd and 5 plays than 3rd and 10 plus plays. The Bears have a lot of manageable 3rd downs that they have to deal with but when they get them and keep drives alive it saps some of the energy from the opposing team. The offensive line is playing very, very well. The pass protection is there, but so are the running lanes. There is great balance with the play calling and the key players are making plays. Marshall had another 100 yard receiving day. Bennett got 75 yards and 2 TDs. Forte rushed for 90 yards and got another 70 receiving. Jeffery and Earl Bennett also had key catches. In fact, the Bears offense moved the ball pretty well most of the day. If not for the two first half turnovers that I mentioned above, the Bears may have cruised to victory.

The defense is solid. They got sacks and they largely controlled AP. He ripped off one 36 yard run, but other than that he was held in check. The Bears also got the pick-6 and bailed out the offense after a Forte fumble in Chicago territory and after a second Cutler interception.

The Bears go on the road to Pittsburgh. To me, that is a game I expect the Bears to win. Fantastic start against solid competition, but they just have to keep it going.